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Pathfinder Pack on The Scottish Wars of Independence - William Wallace

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Introduction

The tragic death of Alexander III set in course a train of events that would see Scotland become a vassal state of the English King Edward I, Hammer of the Scots. In its hour of need, Scotland would have to turn to the son of a landowner to find someone brave enough to take on the might of one of the greatest armies in the world. His name was William Wallace and you can find out about the events that helped shape the nation of Scotland in this Pathfinder Pack.

The Scottish Wars of Independence - William Wallace

Margaret, the Maid of Norway was the granddaughter of King Alexander III of Scotland. He died in a riding accident in 1286 and she was his appointed heir. The barons and earls of Scotland turned to King Edward I of England. He agreed to marry his son to Margaret in return for Scotland recognising his supremacy. Unfortunately, Princess Margaret fell ill on the journey from Norway and died in the Orkney Islands aged 6.

The Death of Alexander III and the Maid of Norway
The Death of Alexander III and the Maid of Norway

King Edward came to Berwick in 1291 to sort out the succession to the Scottish throne. He chose John Balliol, who was forced to swear allegiance to Edward as his feudal overlord. John Balliol endured humiliation at the hands of Edward. When Edward went to France to pursue his claims to the throne there, Balliol decided to honour a pact with the French called the Auld Alliance and attacked England. Edward was furious and exacted his revenge by ransacking the town of Berwick in 1296 and killing everyone he found.

John Balliol and the Auld Alliance
John Balliol and the Auld Alliance

John Balliol was forced to surrender his throne after being defeated by Edward's Army at Dunbar. Scotland was left without a King and the noblemen of Scotland were forced to swear allegiance to King Edward by signing the Ragman's Roll. The roll got its name from the ribbons attached to the wax seals of the various noblemen. King Edward also seized the Stone of Destiny from Scone Palace and took it back to Westminster Abbey were he placed it under the English throne.

The Ragman's Roll and the Stone of Destiny
The Ragman's Roll and the Stone of Destiny

William Wallace was the son of a landowner who had refused to sign the Ragman's Roll. He was declared an outlaw. His wife was murdered on the orders of the English Sheriff of Clydesdale, William Hazelrig. Wallace murdered Hazelrig and then attacked the English Chief Justice in Scone and sent him packing. He continued to attack English forces and gathered an army of like-minded Scotsmen as he went.

William Wallace
William Wallace

The English Guardians of Scotland were forced to respond to the successes of Wallace and another rebel leader, Andrew Murray, from the Highlands. The English brought a huge army to Scotland. Wallace and Murray gathered their forces near Stirling and waited on an outcrop of rock called Abbey Craig. As the English Army was crossing the narrow wooden bridge at Stirling, Wallace sprung a trap. He waited until part of the army was over the bridge then sealed it off and slaughtered the knights who were now trapped on marshy land on the far side of the bridge surrounded by the River Forth. English losses were huge and the remnants of the army fled.

The Battle of Stirling Bridge
The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Andrew Murray died after Stirling Bridge, leaving Wallace to act as sole guardian of the country. His army marched into England but was eventually forced back by bad weather. Edward returned from France to lead his forces against the Scots. The two sides met at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. The Scots tried to hold off the English cavalry by using huge circles of wooden stakes with men standing inside with spears held outwards, but superior English forces and their ranks of archers led to the Scots being slaughtered. William escaped but would never again lead Scotland.

The Battle of Falkirk
The Battle of Falkirk

William Wallace was now a fugitive and though he continued to organise rebellion against Edward I, he would never lead a Scots army into battle. Even after Edward made peace between the two countries he refused to pardon Wallace. He was eventually captured near Glasgow and taken to London. He was found guilty of treason, dragged to his place of execution and then he was hung, drawn and quartered. It was a long and excruciating death. His heroism continued to inspire the Scots. In the 19th century a monument was built with public subscriptions on Abbey Craig, the place where Wallace's troops gathered before the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

William Wallace Captured and Killed
William Wallace Captured and Killed
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